"The nominal GDP of the industrialized world has grown just 4.1% since the lows of Q1’2009, one of the tiniest, deflationary expansions ever. And while asset prices are up significantly since their 2008/09 lows, the underlying message from Wall Street in recent years has been doggedly deflationary."
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"... When stocks are falling this much, it's hard to justify not acting"
"... Davos - where he mingled with central bankers such as ECB President Mario Draghi and leading company executives - likely prompted him to pull the trigger"
“The real enemy of investors is not these fairly routine 10 or 20% downturns. The real enemy is the bear market that is associated with a recession or crisis, the one that knocks your equity block down by 40 or 50%. And actually it isn’t even the depth that is the real enemy. For most investors the enemy is time.”
By surprising markets with a move to a negative deposit rate, the Bank of Japan gave investors temporary reprieve, providing a much needed opportunity to pare portfolio risk at better prices. Unfortunately, the improvement in financial asset prices will be short-lived; except, of course, for long-maturity Treasuries.
What’s a Keynesian monetary quack to do when the economy and markets fail to remain “on message” within a few weeks of grandiose declarations that this time, printing truckloads of money has somehow “worked”, in defiance of centuries of experience, and in blatant violation of sound theory? In the weeks since the largely meaningless December rate hike, numerous armchair central planners, many of whom seem to be pining for even more monetary insanity than the actual planners, have begun to berate the Fed for inadvertently summoning that great bugaboo of modern-day money cranks, the “ghost of 1937”.
Here is the one chart which in our opinion virtually assures that the Fed will follow in the footsteps of Sweden, Denmark, Europe, Switzerland and now Japan.
Following years of QE-inspired excess returns, investors in 2016 suddenly find themselves embroiled in a broad and brutal bear market. The 10-year rolling return loss from commodities (-5.1%) is currently the worst since 1938, and equal-weighted US stock index down 25% from recent highs. However, in BofAML's view, the pertinent question for investors is whether the current bear market represents a healthy "reset" of both profit expectations and equity and credit valuations, or more ominously, the onset of a broader economic malaise that will require a major policy intervention in coming months to reverse.
"Never before have so many central banks explored sub-zero territory at the same time."
That giant sucking sound you hear is the P&L of macro/FX hedge funds as they look in dismay at their USDJPY exposure.
- World shares heat up as Bank of Japan goes sub-zero (Reuters)
- Stocks Rally With Bonds as BOJ Ends Grim January on High Note (BBG)
- Japan Follows Europe Into Negative Interest Rate Territory (WSJ)
- Decision On Oil Cut Only Possible If All Exporters Agree, Russian Energy Minister Says (BBG)
- Trump overshadows Republican debate even as he sits it out (Reuters)
- Trump skips debate, wins on social media (Reuters)
It is safe to say that nobody expected the BOJ stunner announced last night, when Kuroda announced that Japan would become the latest country to unleash negative interest rates, for one simple reason: Kuroda himself said Japan would not adopt negative rates just one week ago! However, a few BIS conference calls since then clearly changed the Japanese central banker's mind and as we wrote, and as those who are just waking up are shocked to learn, negative rates are now a reality in Japan. The immediate reaction was to send the USDJPY surging by nearly 200 pips, back to levels seen... well, about a month ago.
"The BoJ actions should lead to further intensification of global currency wars with central banks around the world trying to engineer sustained competitive devaluation against the background of slowing global trade and growth as well as persistent commodity price disinflation. With its latest measures the BoJ will allow Japan to borrow more growth from its trading partners and limit the severity of the imported disinflation."